Information comes to me: Twitter and Me

Big tweet

Random Observation/Comment #232: While I was executing Project Wean-Back-Into-Work, I found myself distracted by another project.  Wow, story of my life.  Someone asked me what the big deal was about Twitter, and so, I decided to ramble a bit.  I’ll give the shortened version and how I apply it to my personal web surfing experience.

In short, Twitter is appealing in a business perspective because it’s a tool for these businesses and people to post current news and other information to their followers in a microblogging condensed format.  You know that “recent news” menu that most companies have on their websites?  Twitter basically provides the platform to aggregate all those “recent news” posts for every person to see.  The power for the business lies in the ability to easily publish something in real time, directly to a viewed, popular source.  The power for the viewer lies in the ability to follow people and companies they’re interested in.  It’s an easy way to stay updated with their upcoming stories in a quick “headlines” format.

But this all seems quite familiar – RSS anyone? RSS was definitely an inspiration, but Twitter can be seen as a platform that makes it simpler and gives people the ability to post anything.  Instead of subscribing to the RSS feed of websites to view on your favorite RSS feed viewer (Google Reader for me), you’re basically following (subscribing) to users (CEOs, techies in the business, or the business themselves) that represent their website.  However, instead of posting a related article, you have the option to rant or link to blog posts on topics related to your company in a simple “status update” method.

Perhaps the most unique feature is the ability to directly contact people who are commenting on your posts and form a connection with the reader.  With this addition, the RSS feed is a two-way communication instead of the user just siphoning information.  When the reader communicates with the company, the reader publically updates about his/her attention.  I think Twitter really brings personality and creativity into the information – allowing for feedback and showing that company CEOs have other interests.

Normal people using this feature may ask, “What’s the difference between this and facebook status updates?”  Although it isn’t written in stone, I’ve always felt twitter updates are used to describe your interests by retweeting what people you follow are posting.  The normal user should act as the medium to spread the awareness of the main posts to others.  Facebook status updates, however, fail to realize this main factor. They think it’s just letting people know what you’re doing and how you feel, but it’s really more focused on what you’re reading and your real-time feedback on the information provided.

Basically, Twitter is trying to combine a simple form of social networking with the everyday unfiltered real-time news of famous and not-so-famous people.  It’s definitely caught on around the world and I think it will help some people scan the information their interested in faster.  Instead of searching within your own interests on a search engine, we can comb through the interests of friends, family, important people, and basically anyone we can find.

You could (and I have) start following a stranger because he/she retweets interesting news in your genre.  Similar to the overflow of tabs, you could keep searching for people this person follows and cascade into an overloaded feed.  Beware of the cluttered feed, and make use of their “lists” feature.  The “lists” separate this real-time feed into relevant post-ers, and the ability to share and follow the list of others gives the flexibility of getting the most up-to-date news.  I am currently following lists mixed from readers around the world to get the most interesting update on tech news, comics, and events.  It may not be a service for you, but it can greatly help a business with no advertising needed.

~See Lemons Only Google for Answers